Fascinating Education is an online science curriculum that offers high school level classes. They include Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Biology. For our review, we received a year-long access to Fascinating Biology. Julia, my freshman, has been using the online biology curriculum for the past few weeks.
Online Biology with Fascinating Education
I’ll be the first to admit that in general, online curriculum is not my favorite. I am a pen and paper kind of gal and prefer to hold a book over a device any day. That being said, my children have altogether different preferences. For example, Julia would rather read on her Kindle than hold a book. She’s also a huge fan of her online math curriculum (which drives me batty). This online biology has been no exception. (In that she likes it, not that it drives me batty. Ha!)
Maybe it’s because she’s a visual learner. Maybe it’s because the slides change frequently during the lessons. Maybe it’s because there’s no real note taking. But whatever the case, she likes the premise on which this program is built. Quick moving lessons that don’t require rigorous studying or note taking.
Each of the different programs offered covers all the standard topics taught in a high school curriculum, which means these programs count as high school credit (based on completion). By using illustrations to explain science, each program is less than 20 lessons. The idea behind the programs is that visual learning takes much less time than text-based learning, even if each lesson is viewed two or three times.
“The way to keep kids interested in science is to give them scientific tools they can use in their own lives and make the science easy to learn.” -Dr. Margulies, creator of Fascinating Education
So how does Fascinating Biology Work?
Well, it’s pretty simple. You log in, select your program, and then choose your lesson.
This is what the main page looks like when you select your lesson.
Below each lesson photo is three options:
- Lesson – the direct link to the lesson
- Script – a verbatim, printable version of the lesson (great for multisensory work!)
- Test – multiple choice tests for each lesson (there are also printable PDF versions of the tests)
Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like during the lessons. This is from Lesson 8- Take in Energy part 4.
On the left, you can see the different topics covered in the lesson. The videos automatically progress through the list until the lesson is complete, at which point the screen reverts back to the main lesson page and you can either choose the next lesson or take the test.
You are allowed to take the tests as many times as you’d like. It does keep track of the last score you achieved, but there’s no bank of scores. Which leads me to my next point . . .
There is no record keeping with this program. You, as the teacher, are perfectly capable of printing the PDF tests, having your student complete them, and storing the tests as records, but that’s about it.
Also, there is no record of what has been done. No log of hours or lessons completed. It would be simple to create a check off sheet with the lesson numbers and/or titles to have on hand and keep track of what was completed when. I kinda wish I would have known that before we started the program. Several times we’ve had to guess where we were in the lesson progression. BUT! It does keep track of where you left off in each lesson, just not what lesson you’re on. So there’s that.
Is this a Christian program?
Dr. Margulies’ first lesson in the Biology says this,
“Everyone appears to accept that the universe did not always exist. How it came into being and the events that unfolded after its creation are still matters of debate and uncertainty. Religious views and scientific views differ. I do not see it as my role with these curricula to argue in favor of one or the other. My role is to describe the forces in the universe and how they play out in our everyday lives without addressing how those forces came into being or whether forces are being manipulated by God in some way.”
While the doctor claims to be Switzerland, clearly the program is not. My Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Period. The end.
There is no “uncertainty” in the matter.
That being said, do I think the program is rubbish because it doesn’t conform to my young earth beliefs? Of course not! However, I do believe that it is something to be aware of.
Ideally, children who are old enough to be doing Biology will have a firm foundation in the Word and the, “one hundred and fifty million years ago . . . ” found here and there in the program can be easily overlooked with no further explanation necessary.
Our final thoughts
Fascinating Education offers several different creditworthy high school science programs. The online factor makes it user-friendly and teacher involvement minimal. The programs are very affordable. Here’s a screenshot of the prices. There are also combo packages available!
Will we continue to use it? Probably not. Because we are a Charlotte Mason-esque homeschool, this just isn’t a good fit for our family. That being said, it is an excellent program and I’m sure it will fit the needs of many, many families.